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Need to Know: Is Barnett London's successor?

nick-barnett-camp.png

Need to Know: Is Barnett London's successor?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 31, nine days before the Redskins open up their season against the Eagles at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

Five things from Redskins Park:

1. It’s cutdown day, the day of the Turk and news of who has been released will trickle in all day today. If you’re the type who doesn’t like to rely on news from “sources” preferring instead to wait for the official word you’ll have to wait a while. Since Mike Shanahan has been the head coach the press release announcing who has been cut has come out after the sun has started to set. The time stamp on the email last year was 9:10 p.m.

2. I think that seventh-round pick Jawan Jamison will be one of those players asked to see the coach and bring his iPad today. He just didn’t do enough in camp to earn carries in the preseason games and without those, Shanahan has said many times, he can’t really judge a runner. Jamison looked pretty good in minicamp when nobody’s wearing any pads. That makes me think that maybe he needs to get stronger. If he is cut I think he makes the practice squad and after a year there and, just as important, a year in the weight room he can come back next year and have a solid shot at the 53.

3. The Redskins got 10 sacks in four preseason games so that would be the equivalent of getting 40 in a 16-game season. That would have been good for ninth in the NFL last year. Of course you can’t project their 2013 performance like that because many of those sacks were by guys who won’t be around or won’t play regularly going up against opponents in the same boat. But what you saw was a decent level of pass pressure and if they can duplicate it in the regular season they should be pretty happy. By comparison, the Redskins’ 32 sacks last year were 24th in the league.

4. As the contradictory reports and text messages fly around, just remember one thing—all of this is process. A week from today few will remember that it took an extra three days for Shanahan to name Griffin the starter due to some nebulous, disputed “concerns”.

5. Nick Barnett got into the swing of things yesterday playing 25 snaps with four tackles. I still think he might be inactive for a few weeks while he gets fully into football shape. It’s possible (just my speculation here) that he could be a one- or two-year stopgap at Mike linebacker if London Fletcher retires at the end of the year. It doesn’t look like Keenan Robinson, who the Redskins drafted with the idea of having him replace Fletcher some day, will be ready and if he is you have to wonder if injuries will be a concern. They could stick with Robinson or draft another potential replacement in the middle rounds next year.

Stat of the day

Final preseason stat leaders

—Rushing: Roy Helu Jr., 27 carries 157 yards (5.8 average)
—Receiving : Receptions, 3 tied with 7 (Aldrick Robinson, Leonard Hankerson, Nick Williams); Yards Dezmon Briscoe 113 (4 rec., 28.3 avg.)
—Passing: Rex Grossman 31-58 for 423 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 INT, 87.0 rating
—Sacks: Ryan Kerrigan 2
—Interceptions: Kerrigan and David Amerson tied with 1

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Timeline

—It's been 234 days since the last Redskins game; there are nine days to go until the next on

—Today is the day that the “days until” line starts counting down to nothing but actual football games that count.

—Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Packers 15; Lions @ Redskins 22

—Today’s schedule: Team is scheduled to have a light practice, no media availability. Final cuts due to league office by 6 p.m.

Thompson talks about his punt return

In case you missed it

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!